Members of the 2007 Palm Beach Team in Training cycle team, waiting for the start of the 25th annual El Tour de Tucson.
My husband, Rob, and I have been involved with the Palm Beach, Florida branch of Team in Training since 2006. Team in Training, which is the main fundraising program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, helps to train amateur athletes for marathons, triathlons and century bike rides, at various locations throughout the United States. Rob and I have done 4 century rides, so far, through the Team in Training program.
Century Road Bike Ride
A century ride is a one day, 100 mile road bike ride. That’s a lot of riding, especially since we are probably on the wrong side of the young and the restless chart. I’m currently 46 years old, and Rob is a youthful 53. Back in 2006, I thought that joining a cycle team would be a good way for us to increase our road biking skills, while at the same time increase our general level of fitness. You have to understand that we were pretty much the poster child’s for the cult of the couch potato back in 2006.
Long Bike Rides
The longest road ride I had done up to that point was around 22 miles, and that took me nearly half a day, with a really long break and an iced coffee at the half way point. So the thought of riding 100 miles in a single day seemed nearly an impossible task to achieve. But I like challenges so I signed us both up for the century ride. I did not consult Rob on his opinion as to whether or not he would like to participate in a 100 mile bike ride. I called him at work and told him he had approximately 4 months to train for the ride. I’m famous for doing stuff like that, and yes, we are still married to this day.
I missed the first 3 training rides with the TNT cycle team. Someone forgot to tell my body that I was in the training stages to becoming an overly zealous amateur athlete. A bought with appendicitis slowed me down for almost two weeks, then we had an already planned vacation to North Carolina that we couldn’t cancel. So my first ride with the team was a 25 mile ride. Did you read the part at the beginning of this article that mentioned my longest ride up until this point had been 22 miles? Yup, 25 miles just about killed me.
At the time, I was the slowest person on the team, and could barely average 14 MPH. I think turtles can move faster than that. But I’m not one to get discouraged, in fact, if you ask my husband, I can be quite stubborn at times. I just kept showing up for the weekly team rides and tried to get in a few extra miles in during the week.
We managed to survive all of our training rides, well, okay maybe Blue Heron bridge kicked my butt a couple of times, but in the fall of 2006 we completed our first century ride with TNT as part of the Cocoa Beach cycle team. Not wanting to be called a slacker, and needing more finishers medals to fill in the gaps in my trophy case, we immediately signed up for the next TNT century ride.
Mirage or Mariachi Band?
In 2007 we co-mentored the team that did the 2007 El Tour de Tucson century ride. That was actually a 109 mile road bike ride, which involved two dry riverbed crossings. There was a mariachi band, in full costume, entertaining the cyclists as they came out of the first dry riverbed crossing. El Tour de Tucson was a particularly special century ride for Rob & I. Cycling legend Greg LeMond was our guest speaker at the TNT pasta dinner which was held the night before the ride. Another notable event, was Rob being asked if he would be interested in coaching a future TNT cycle team.
Of course he said; “yes, I’d love to coach the Palm Beach Team in Training cycle team”, or something like that. That’s how we got involved with our 3rd century ride with Team in Training. In 2008 Rob coached, and I mentored the team that was training for the Cocoa Beach century ride. Cocoa Beach is flat as a pancake, so it was a nice change to train for that ride, after training for the hills of Tucson, Arizona.
The Bike Diva bombing down Card Sound bridge on her new Trek Madone 6.5 full carbon road bike. Day 2 of the 2009 MS150 bike ride.
Catch the Bike Bug
I really got the biking bug while we were out in Tucson, and after spending too much time drooling at new bikes at the Bike Expo, decided I wanted to upgrade my road bike. When we got back to Florida, we went to a local bike store and I ordered a Trek Madone 6.5. That’s a full carbon road bike, that weighs about 14.1 pounds and costs a huge pile of money. No one told me I was probably a bit past my prime for getting invited to ride for any pro cycling teams. Who cares, at least my new ride would have me looking fly!
I became a hardcore racer chick in 2009, and competed in over 20 races, including 10 sprint duathlons, so I didn’t feel like I had enough time to invest in being a mentor for the spring 2009 Team in Training cycle team. And I was also busy writing for my Bike Diva blog. I had to invent a legitimate excuse for spending so much time cycling, so starting a bike blog seemed like the logical outcome. In 2009 Rob coached the Tahoe TNT cycle team, along with coach Nathan Korvosky.
The Bike Diva, along with coach Nathan, and team mate Jeff, trying to stay warm at the 2009 Tahoe century ride, AKA America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride.
Vertically Challenged Florida Cyclists
Elevation for the Tahoe century ride ranges from around 6,000 to 7,000 feet. How does a team based out of Florida train to do a 100 mile bike ride in the mountains around Lake Tahoe? Wind and drawbridges baby, wind and drawbridges. If you are a south Florida cyclist, you know what I’m talking about. The Tahoe century ride, AKA America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, circumnavigates Lake Tahoe. Although the ride starts and ends in Nevada, the majority of the ride actually takes place in California. Look at a map, I’m not crazy, Lake Tahoe ain’t your mamma’s fish pond, it’s a really HUGE lake that covers two states.
Later this year Rob and I will be participating in our 5th century ride with Team in Training. The Palm Beach cycle team has two century ride options scheduled for the fall 2010 season. Cyclists can either sign up for the Space Coast Century ride, which takes place in Cocoa Beach on October 24th, or they can sign up for El Tour de Tucson, which takes place on November 20 in Tucson, Arizona.
Coach Rob and Coach Nathan having a final pow-wow before heading out for the 2009 Tahoe century ride.
Coach Rob Returns
We are hoping that Rob will be asked to coach the Tucson team, since we did that ride with TNT back in 2007. A recent scare with bladder cancer, left Rob temporarily benched on the sides lines in the fall of 2009. But his doctor gave him the all clear on January 7, 2010, so he is trying to get back into cycling and has thrown his hat back into the ring to be a Team in Training cycle coach. I’ll be busy training for my second half Ironman distance duathlon at Miami Man, which takes place the week before El Tour, so I’ll just be a member of the cycle team, and leave mentoring to someone with more time to devote to the fundraising aspects of TNT.
Couch Potato to Bike Freak
Rob has become a bike wrench in his free time. We own so many bikes at our house, that it just made economical sense for him to start learning how to take care of all the wheels. He mostly doesn’t have any parts leftover after doing his repairs, that’s always a good thing. So basically we went from being regular, ordinary cyclists in the spring of 2006, to being total bike freaks in the spring of 2010, all thanks to the Team in Training program. GO TEAM!Team in Training Century Rides
To read the details, and see lots of pictures of the various TNT rides I've participated in, check out these articles:
Lynn Smythe, AKA the Bike Diva